Tag Archives: Cablevision

Cablevision: $4 And Change

I’m willing to do a lot for my “06880″ readers.

Waiting on the phone for Cablevision to answer is, unfortunately, not one of them.

So I don’t know if this email from an alert reader is true or not. But it’s worth passing on:

Cablevision will give a $4-and-change rebate for last night’s service outage. It requires staying on the phone and probably calling again when the bill comes, but it is sooo worth it for the aggravation it gives them.

Call 203-847-6666. But don’t tell ‘em Dan sent you.

An average Cablevision customer in Westport, last night.

An average Cablevision customer in Westport, last night.

The Bad News: Cablevision Is Down Across Connecticut

The good news: At least we have electricity.

Cablevision logo

Lost In Cyberspace

It’s my own fault for calling Cablevision about my email account on a weekend.

But a while ago — solving another issue — a technician told me that my “Optimum account” was not linked to my “Optimum ID.” He said that, to avoid a problem in the future, I should take care of that little issue.

Which I did last Saturday, around 4 p.m.

The process went swimmingly.

Until it didn’t.

Suddenly — in mid-linkage — the tech support guy could not seal the deal. Something had happened in cyberspace, he said, and it would have to be solved by someone higher up.

Unfortunately, those people did not work weekends.

However, the tech guy assured me chirpily, he was sure it would be taken care of. In 2 to 3 days. That is, “business days.” Meaning, oh, 4 days from then.

Until then, also unfortunately, I would not have access to email.

For someone who fields 200 or so emails a day — many of them business-related — this was not good.

In fact, this was very, very bad.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. The tech guy gladly got rid of me connected me to one.

Me, if I weighed 150 pounds more than I do.

This man — his name was Akinola — was sympathetic. Still, he said — I could almost see him shaking his head — this issue would unfortunately not be resolved this weekend. He understood that I was a loyal Cablevision customer — I was among the 1st dozen or so cable modem subscribers, when such a thing came to Westport around 1997, and I’ve been a cable TV customer since 1983 — but this was beyond his control. The best he could do was make sure it was taken care of early on Monday.

I asked to speak to his supervisor.

Which is when Stacie Serrano entered my life.

She understood the problem. She understood that Cablevision bore some responsibility for screwing up a relatively simple operation in midstream. She understood that I was angry, frustrated, anxious, and not a happy camper.

And — you don’t find this often in customer service stories — she set about to help.

I don’t know how she did it, but she found someone who — though this was not a “business day” — was actually working. Then — instead of just handing the case off to someone who may or may not have cared — she kept on him.

Me, at 10 p.m. Saturday.

And — are you sitting down? — Stacie called back several times to update me on Cablevision’s progress. So too did my new friend, Akinola.

By 10 p.m., the problem was solved. My account and ID number were now, apparently, linked. More importantly, I once again had access to email.

Well, most of it. Anything sent between 4 and 10 p.m. Saturday was apparently lost in cyberspace. I was assured it would turn up soon in Cablevision’s lost-and-found.

So this is one of those rare stories: the consumer equivalent of snow in October (it happens). This is a public thank-you to Cablevision, for outstanding customer service. And a hug — through the interwebs — to Stacie Serrano.

PS: 24 hours later, my missing emails came through. Well, most of them, anyway.

Don’t Call Us; We’ll Call You

The amount of mail I get has dropped dramatically in the past few years.  That’s one small reason why the Westport post office is moving from an actual building downtown to half of a former day spa in a shopping center.

In fact, if it wasn’t for AT&T and Cablevision, I wouldn’t get any mail at all.

I’ve been a valuable customer of both behemoths for years.  I pay my bills on time — and they are not unsubstantial amounts.

A sampling of mail from the past couple of months.

But like clockwork — at least once a week — they send me stuff.  Not only is the message the same — add services!  pay more! — but sometimes it is the exact same letter I threw away the previous week.

It’s like they were little children, who think that by repeating the same message over and over and over and over, they will get their way.

Here’s my response:  Stop mailing me crap.  I am not interested in being upsold.  Please take whatever it costs to send me weekly mailings, and credit it to my bill.  Then I will know I truly am a “valued customer.”

Dianne Wildman Burns Bids Goodbye

For decades, TV stations grudgingly followed FCC regulations about offering editorial opinions.  They were delivered at midnight by male general managers, uncomfortably discussing obscure subjects.

When President Reagan deregulated the industry, stations happily junked their editorials.

Cablevision is one of the few networks in the country that’s kept the tradition alive — in its own way.  For the past 13 years, its editorials were delivered by a very attractive woman.  Hired for that specific role, she spoke intelligently and strongly on a broad array of important topics.

Earlier this month, Dianne Wildman Burns retired.  In a television landscape filled with celebrity gossip, shouting political pundits and “reality” garbage, she will be sorely missed.

Dianne Wildman Burns

Dianne is a true pro.  After grad school in UCLA and a stint in the Peace Corps, she landed a job in radio.  KNBC-TV liked her news-writing style — and with 19 men and no women on staff, they were desperate to avoid a license challenge.  They hired her quickly.

Dianne served as an NBC News correspondent in the US and London.  She married writer/TV commentator Eric Burns, had 2 children, and worked in the Clinton White House press office.

After the Burnses moved to Westport, she joined Cablevision.  Every Wednesday and Friday, she delivered editorials.

She covered every topic.  Transportation, Long Island Sound, veterans, the homeless, the economy, crime, good news — you name it, Dianne did it.

Though she commented often on government bureaucracies and decisions, she did not swing blindly.  “People work very hard in government, and they don’t get credit for it,” she says.  “It’s easy to criticize one headline, but they labor every day.  It’s a slog.  They’re very devoted.”

Dianne adds, “I tried not to just zing.  I looked for ways to improve policy.  It’s not just about one snarky comment.”

Her favorite subjects are “anything with kids, and anything about Bridgeport.”  Youngsters are our future; as for the city, it’s “so complex,” she says.  “And I’m fascinated with its evolution from an industrial city to what it is today.”

She calls her job “wonderful,” because the focus was intensely local.  People — politicians, local citizens, folks she knows and complete strangers — reacted to nearly everything she said.

The most vociferous feedback came when she talked about highway tolls.  “The piece was just about thinking about them,” she laughs.  “But a whole lot of people told me how misinformed I was.”

Her viewers, she says, were a microcosm of Fairfield County. “They’re funny, smart, sharp and kind.  They always tried to help me understand their lives.”

Unlike a general reporter, she had time to talk with them.  And many took time to thank her for her editorials.

She wrote and delivered about 1,500, since 1998.  She came up with ideas, framed them — and made sure there were visuals and graphics to accompany them.  “Writing to pictures” was one of the hardest parts of her job.

Oh, yeah:  Each editorial had to clock in between 95 and 100 seconds in length.

In her final piece earlier this month,  Dianne said she’d been blessed with a great career.

Now she’s on to her next adventure.

“I’ve been a journalist all my life,” Dianne notes.  “I’ve loved doing this.  But journalists are by definition observers.  I might want to participate now a bit more — do something beyond just watching.”

And, she says, “I’d love to do it outside — away from a desk!”

(Click here for Dianne’s “goodbye” editorial — and an archive of others.)

Dianne Wildman Burns, in a familiar pose.

Who Shall Provide?

Cablevision has been my internet provider since the day they came to Westport.  In fact, I remember watching a demo of something called a “cable modem” on the 2nd floor of Klein’s department store (!).  I realized how much better it was than a dial-up modem (!!), and became one of their 1st dozen or so customers here.

I’d already had Cablevision TV, since the early ’80s.  I still remember the thrill I got watching news that was “as local as local gets,” and realizing there was a whole universe of channels beyond 13.

Which doesn’t stop Cablevision from mailing me — every 2 or 3 days — urging pressuring me to upgrade, consolidate and/or bundle all my communication needs together.

Despite recent “06880″ posts to the contrary, the US Postal Service is in no danger of going away.  Cablevision keeps them hopping.

AT&T helps too.

They’ve been my phone provider ever since I’ve had a phone.  Now I’m an iPhone customer too.  I’m not one of the millions of Americans who complains.  I find AT&T service perfectly fine adequate.

But they too mail me with stalker-ish frequency.  AT&T also demands all my internet, TV and phone business.

I don’t plan to change internet providers — or drop my landline — for one fossil-sounding, but important, reason:  Too many people know my email address and phone number.  Both are out there in Rolodexes, contact lists and cyberspace — and on dozens, if not hundreds, of websites — and have been for decades.  For someone who is self-employed — and depends on people finding him me for work — changing them is too daunting a task.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Faithful “06880″ reader Andy Yemma has a similar story — with a different ending.

He says:

I’ve been a customer of both AT&T and Cablevision since we moved to Westport nearly 2 decades ago (I think it was actually SNET before it was SBC before it was AT&T).  Back in the ’90s it was simply AOL for email and SNET for phone calls.

I remember installing my first high-speed cable modem, purchased at “Nobody Beats the Wiz” (remember that?) on New Year’s Eve 1999, showing my faith in my notion that Y2K would be no big deal.

In recent years the technology of television (digital and hi-def), internet (WiFi and cellular) and phone (VOIP and cellular) have evolved with increasing speed.

And, by the way, who uses voicemail anymore?  A couple of weeks ago my AT&T voicemail service quit working.  After several unfruitful calls to AT&T, I discovered that they had “upgraded” my voicemail box and I needed to start calling another number.  This of course led the AT&T representative to try to sell me on their bundled package of phone/internet/TV services, which she promised would save me a bundle over Cablevision.

Suddenly I realized that the monopolies of the phone and cable companies had gone kaput.  Now there’s competition for my business from Cablevision, AT&T and Verizon — all offering bundled packages.  The offers are tiered, depending upon the level of service and features and internet speed.

They’re very complicated, and almost impossible from my POV to compare side-by-side.   All of the competitors promise the best deal, and diss the competition.

I thought perhaps Dan’s loyal commentators might offer views on this — what’s been your experience with the various providers?  Should I take the plunge and switch providers — and if so to which one?  A kilobyte for your thoughts?

“06880 readers”:  Help Andy decide.

Or confuse him even more than he is now.

Great Cake!

The Staples culinary program of 1987 was nothing like today.  Nonetheless, Catherine Ruehle has become one the high school’s most famous gustatory graduates.

At Miche Mache restaurant, the self-taught baker’s artistic eye and flair for innovative flavor combinations won a rave review from the New York Times (“breathtaking in both artistry and taste”).  Since then she’s catered, managed a restaurant, published cookbooks, and developed and tested recipes.

Catherine Ruehle, and something she just whipped up.

Two years ago Catherine launched Sublime, a retail bakery and cake studio in Fort Worth.  Its custom cakes, eat-in and takeout desserts, breakfast pastries, catering trays and private cake decorating lessons and online store — including vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free items — have earned Texas-size praise.

Soon the entire country will see if Catherine will rule the reality TV world.  This week she finished taping her 1st Food Network Challenge.

Details and air date not yet available.  Of course, Catherine’s friends and fans in Fairfield County can’t see anything on the Food Network at all right now.  Cablevision and Scripps Network have effectively told their viewers:  Let them eat cake.